Medina Spirit is stripped of the Kentucky Derby win

Medina Spirit was deprived of the Kentucky Derby victory and Mandaloun was declared winner following a ruling made by state racing officials on Monday.

Medina Spirit is stripped of the Kentucky Derby win

Medina Spirit, who was later killed, tested positive for betamethasone after last May's race. This steroid is legal in Kentucky, but prohibited on race day. The negative test caused chaos in the world's most famous horse race and put a spotlight on Bob Baffert, the trainer who was regarded as the face of horse racing having steered horses to the Triple Crown in 2015-2018.

Baffert won his seventh Kentucky Derby title when Medina Spirit finished half-a-length ahead Mandaloun. Churchill Downs banned Baffert for two years after the positive test.

Monday's Kentucky Horse Racing Commission decision makes Medina Spirit now the second horse to be disqualified from the race for a banned substance. The first was Dancer's Image, in 1968. Forward Pass won that race. Country House won the race with only one other disqualification, in 2019, when Maximum Security was disqualified for interference.

Churchill Downs released a statement declaring Mandaloun winner of the Kentucky Derby. It also congratulated Juddmonte Farms' breeder Brad Cox, Churchill Downs' jockey Florent Geroux, and Mandaloun's owner, Juddmonte Farms. Mandaloun's owners receive $1.8 million in the winner's prize, Cox becoming the first Louisville native to win it.

The statement stated that Mandaloun will be celebrated on a future date "in a manner that is appropriate of this rare distinction."

The track will replace Medina Spirit by Mandaloun on the Paddock Sign honoring Tuesday's Derby winner. Mandaloun will run in Saturday's $20 million Saudi Cup in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia). The $10 million prize goes to the winner.

Baffert was also placed on suspension by the racing commission for 90 days. On Monday, the racing commission fined Baffert $7,500. This decision came after a February. 14 hearing, which was closed to media and the public.

Clark Brewster, an attorney representing Baffert, stated that he would appeal the decision.

Brewster stated that "this ruling is an egregious departure form both the facts as well the law." However, Brewster noted that the KHRC officials made numerous public statements over the past several months indicating that Bob Baffert was already in a pre-hearing before any hearing was held before the three stewards. One of them is employed directly by Churchill Downs to be the Turfway Park racing director.

Baffert was suspended by the California Horse Racing Board. The board said that it would honor his suspension. He is currently based in Santa Anita where he has won some of the 3-year-old prep races to the Kentucky Derby.

The CHRB stated that it will honor any injunction or stay granted by Kentucky racing officials, or a court.

Medina Spirit died Dec. 6 from a heart attack after a Santa Anita training run, less than a month following her second place finish in the Breeders Cup Classic at Del Mar. The horse died after a necropsy .

After a postrace drug testing revealed that 21 picograms (21 mg) of betamethasone were in the horse's body, Baffert initially denied any wrongdoing. Baffert later admitted to treating the horse with a corticosteroid-based topical ointment for skin inflammation.

Churchill Downs suspended Baffert after a series of failed drug tests by his horses. Baffert sued Churchill Downs last June to take custody of remaining samples of Medina Spirit’s blood and urine. This was in order to later test the substance for injection.

Craig Robertson, another Baffert attorney, stated in December, that a urine sample from a split sample had shown the steroid was from an ointment.

Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action, applauded the Stewards for making a statement against Baffert. He called him "American horse racing’s most notorious violator".

"Baffert continues drag horse racing through mud in scandal after scam," Irby stated. "We call on every racing jurisdiction across the nation to hold him responsible by reciprocating the suspension of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in their state." We are thrilled that Baffert will not be taking part in the 2022 Kentucky Derby. We believe the horses and event will be more credible without him.


 

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